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A billion of anything is a whole lot! A billion grains of sand would fill a dump truck… a billion dollars could stretch around the world 4 times.

If you want to count to one billion, plan to dedicate 31 years, 251 days, 13 hours, 34 minutes, at the rate of 1 per second.

A billion seconds is a terrific milestone to celebrate. It’s a great opportunity to throw a unique birthday party for someone you love or want to impress.

Most of us will see a billion seconds pass in our lifetime. Many will celebrate it twice and with a little luck, perhaps even a 3rd time before becoming eligible for a Willard Scott, Smucker’s segment.

If you’re a Telecom geek you’ll want to recognize a billion seconds of Competitionin the telephone industry by setting your alarm to September 9, 2015 at 1:46:40 AM EST.

The countdown started on January 1st, 1984 at the stroke of midnight. That’s when Federal Judge Harold Greene busted the world’s largest monopoly – AT&T.

In its heyday, AT&T was more affectionately known as “Ma Bell”. During the first 100 years Ma Bell enjoyed favored protection most of the time, allowing it to dominate the budding telephone industry.

However, there was a 20-year period between 1893 and 1913 when competitive forces thrived in America. Bell’s Patent protection expired in 1893, opening the door for more than 6,000 new phone companies. They began competing and succeeding for market share across the US. By 1912 the small independent phone companies served over half of 8-million US telephone subscribers.

Then, the Steve Jobs of his era, Thomas Vail was convinced to return to save AT&T’s crumbling business from certain demise. Vail had known that AT&T’s profits, service and satisfaction had fallen dramatically, yet remarkably Vail focused on convincing the US government that AT&T should be regulated.

Conjured in a brilliant stroke of genius, Vail promoted his concept and motto; “One policy, One system, and Universal service.”

In 1913, as World War-I loomed, Uncle Sam sanctioned AT&T’s monopoly with exclusive territories and guaranteed reasonable profits. Veiled in his mastermind plan was Vail’s real plan; to circumvent reasonable profits, in the name of national security by mandating equipment be purchased only from Western Electric, a wholly owned subsidiary of AT&T. Since all the money went in to the same coffers the Bell System quickly became the largest corporation in the world. Competition was squeezed from the landscape for the next 71 years.

One billion seconds hence, we all delight in the fruits of free-spirited innovation. It’s a stark contrast from the days when choice meant choosing the color of our Trimline™ phone.

From imagination to creativity, the freedom to compete fairly has always been a catalyst to invention.

Congratulations Competitive Telecom!